Pediatric obesity-Long-term consequences and effect of weight loss

J Intern Med. 2022 Dec;292(6):870-891. doi: 10.1111/joim.13547. Epub 2022 Aug 5.


Childhood obesity is, according to the WHO, one of the most serious challenges of the 21st century. More than 100 million children have obesity today. Already during childhood, almost all organs are at risk of being affected by obesity. In this review, we present the current knowledge about diseases associated with childhood obesity and how they are affected by weight loss. One major causative factor is obesity-induced low-grade chronic inflammation, which can be observed already in preschool children. This inflammation-together with endocrine, paracrine, and metabolic effects of obesity-increases the long-term risk for several severe diseases. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly prevalent in adolescents and young adults who have had obesity during childhood. When it is diagnosed in young individuals, the morbidity and mortality rate is higher than when it occurs later in life, and more dangerous than type 1 diabetes. Childhood obesity also increases the risk for several autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, arthritis, and type 1 diabetes and it is well established that childhood obesity also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Consequently, childhood obesity increases the risk for premature mortality, and the mortality rate is three times higher already before 30 years of age compared with the normal population. The risks associated with childhood obesity are modified by weight loss. However, the risk reduction is affected by the age at which weight loss occurs. In general, early weight loss-that is, before puberty-is more beneficial, but there are marked disease-specific differences.

Keywords: cardiometabolic disease; inflammation; obesity comorbidities; pediatric obesity; weight loss.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Pediatric Obesity* / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult